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Issue No. 138 31 May 2002  

Demonising Unions
There's a common streak running through the Liberal Party's prosecution of its witch-hunt of the building industry unions and the federal ALP leader's push to reduce the influence of trade unions within the Party. That's the view that unions are on the nose.


Interview: The Star Chamber
CFMEU national seretary John Sutton surveys the limited progress of the Cole Royal Commission.

Politics: The Odd Couple
After spending years yelling at each other, a couple of young factional players started talking to each other in the name of refugees.

Tribute: I-Conned
A rogue priest and Philip Ruddock have combined to leave master artist, Rados Stevanovic, living in a suburban park, as Jim Marr reports.

Media: Audiences Before Politics
The real challenge facing the new managing director of the ABC is how to make audiences central to what the national broadcaster does, argues Tony Moore.

International: The Off-Side Rule
It may be kick off time at the World Cup but unions in South Korea and around Asia are using the world�s biggest sporting event to focus attention on workers� rights, as Andrew Casey discovers.

Economics: The Fake Persuaders
Companies are creating false citizens to try to change the way we think, writes George Monbiot.

History: Terror Tactics
As the Howard Government prepares terror legislation to ban organisations, Neale Towart remembers a similar attempt at censorship in the name of security.

Poetry: Food, Modified Food
That old school yard joke "what do you get if you cross a ... with a ...?" is becoming startlingly true. The latest development is a featherless chicken.

Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Red Pepper's Rick Giombetti scales the big screen and puts Spiderman in his place, flying in the face of right wingers who would claim the Marvel Comic legend as their own.

Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
The English World Cup 2002 campaign is in tatters after star hooligan Gerard Wilson of Chelsea broke his foot.


 Cole Suffers Credibility Crisis

 Councils Armed To Drown Sweatshops

 Miners Win Record Payouts

 Bracks Crew Not Family Friendly

 Time to Charge Directors

 Waterfront Truth One Step Closer

 Speedy Flow-On for NSW Workers

 Star Sin-Binning Prompts Inquiry Call

 New Chief Puts ABC Back In The Picture

 Getting it Wrong on Training

 Gravy Train Gets Richer For Max and Mates

 Reward For Delegate Who Stood Up

 Casino Workers Hit Mat Leave Jackpot

 Drug Haul Sparks Security Warning

 East Timor�s MPs Take Australia On

 ACTU Officials Denied Visas Into Fiji

 Commemorate 100 Years of Votes for Women


The Soapbox
Modernising Labor?
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues that genuine reform of the ALP would go beyond the 60-40 rule, to increase the voice of unions within the Party.

The Locker Room
Juego Bonito
Forget the dour contests of the Premier League and Serie A, it�s the World Cup which transforms football into the beautiful game. Noel Hester analyses the form.

Week in Review
He Who Pays The Piper
Money comes in all colours but, in politics, the hue is usually blue, as Jim Marr discovers �

Rich Pickings
Australia's wealthiest were on display this week as BRW released its annual Rich 200 list.

About Last Night
The CFMEU's Phil Davey, on an APHEDA -Union Aid Abroad delegation to Palestine, recounts his experience trying to get back to his hotel after dark.

 Simon and the Creanites
 In Defence of Latham
 Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
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Letters to the Editor

In Defence of Latham

The recent letter from Tom Collins regarding Mark Latham appears to reflect much of the pointless sloganeering that characterises many of Mr Latham's enemies, whether they be old-fashioned Stalinists, wimminists, public sector ideologues, or basket-weaving greenies. It is not Mr Collins that I primarily take issue with - his letter is a drop in the ocean - it is the hysteria and brainlessness of the broad coalition of apparatchiks who are making a comfortable career out of opposing anything Mr Latham does.

It is unfortunate that there are the usual wild accusations, "rejecting blue collar workers", "belonging in the Howard Government", all of the lines that the Socialist Left tend to feed to their acolytes to keep them content and well within their comfort zone. It is usually the way of the cynical opportunists that they are happy to use old slogans to attack any kind of original thought, without coming up with any sort of viable alternative (excluding the usual calls to increase the size of the public sector).

Everytime Mr Latham proposes some policy or other, there will be guarded support in The Australian (a brainless publication in itself which is the capture of Tory sloganeers), and another round of Latham bashing by the vested interests that he seems to offend. Indeed, the cries of the ill-defined "economic rationalism", are just a convenient way to drop one's obligation as a party of government to implement rational economic policy. If keeping a budget surplus, keeping down interest rates and inflation, implementing microeconomic reform (which has our multifactor productivity growth at 2.5% a year), and generally allowing people to go about their business is "economic rationalism", then let us be economic rationalists. It has been a long time since I've heard anyone actually say "government knows what's best for society and individuals", because it is evidently not true. It is often the vested interests in the public sector and the universities, who have the most to lose fro!

m anyone who demands accountability. Hence the hypocritical cries of "neo-liberal" when someone tries to go about doing that.

Labor has two choices. It can go back to the silly ideas of re-regulation, stifling protectionism, a permanent budget deficit, and a no-obligation welfare state. This sort of rubbish will keep us out of office for the rest of human history. As romantic as it may seem running with socialism's false vow of "equality of outcome", it's simply not the stuff of grown-ups. Why do people insist on pandering to the lunatic fringes of society?

The other choice is to move on. To embrace the idea of "equality of opportunity", to acknowledge that people have aspirations and thus don't want to be "the same" as everyone else, to understand that there are limits to what a government can acheive, to foster civil society. When Mark Latham talks of "social capital", instead of bagging him out (as the philosophically-challenged do), why not try to engage with his argument? Does anyone really believe that the majority of working people actually like Government bureaucracies?

It is frightening to see how close we are to losing our mind and confining ourselves to irrelevance (as was so easily achieved during the 50s and 60s), simply because it all just seems to difficult to actually find out what people are thinking about in the suburbs, and in rural Australia.

The sooner the Labor Party encourages a culture where people (especially the youth) are encouraged to think calmly and sensibly about rational and responsible public policy (rather than encouraging misguided "idealism" as a substitute for policy), the sooner we are likely to regain office from the real opposition: not Mark Latham, but the Howard Government.

Steve Murray Edwards


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